Ladies and gentlemen, label Friday 29 June as a dark day in your diaries – because it marks the first football-free day of the 2018 World Cup.
Some 15 days after the jewel in FIFA’s backhander cash-stuffed crown kicked off in Moscow with the best opening game in history, we’re now faced with the prospect of precisely ZERO football to get us through the day.
Sure, it may be the only actionless day we have to get through until we get to see Diego Maradona flipping off France to herald the start of the Round of 16, but you can be sure it’ll go slowly. Oh so very slowly.
Should you be fearful you’ll end up spending the day rocking in a cold sweat whilst whispering the words “VAR, VAR, VAR…” to yourself, we’ve compiled nine things you must do to get through it with a sane mind.
1 – Pretend it’s not really happening
The beauty of modern technology means it’s a doddle to stream matches you may have missed or rewatch highlights of the ones you loved. Another chance to relive that moment of madness from England vs Tunisia? Sure! Witness Manuel Neuer going AWOL from Germany’s goal on repeat? Bring it on!
Furthermore, it’s the perfect excuse to keep up the charade you’re doing work at your desk. Just try not to shed a tear when you realise quite how brilliant this World Cup has been so far.
2 – Laugh at Germany
3 – Read up on the news
Ever since the World Cup arrived, we bet you’ve been far more concerned with seeing if fluffy-haired madman Joachim Low will scratch’n’sniff his undercarriage again than with how a certain other fluffy-haired madman may be bringing us closer to a nuclear apocalypse.
This 24-hour window gives you a chance to get yourself up to speed with current affairs, ideal if you were to stumble upon a pub quiz over the weekend.
4 – Finally get around to updating the wallchart
Admit it: that giant wallchart you so proudly blu-tacked to the wall just a fortnight ago has sat virtually naked since before Group D had even kicked-off. Now is the perfect opportunity to bring it up to speed, especially as it comes into its own with planning England’s guaranteed route to the final…
5 – Daydream about football coming home
Whatever happens in Kaliningrad against Belgium, rest assured that the Three Lions are certain to bring football home this summer. With Germany now out and Gareth Southgate evidently just a toothier version of Pep Guardiola, England are now fourth favourites to win the whole bloody thing.
Yes, we’re well aware that doesn’t mean they are the actual favourites, but we always said England would win the World Cup when we’d see unicorns swim. And they only went and did just that – in their team hotel no less!
6 – Read up on the world of tennis
If withdrawal symptoms from the football prove too much to bear, try and block it out with a different sport altogether. The World Cup of Strawberries and Cream – also referred to as “Wimbledon” by some lunatics – starts on Monday, so it’s time to check in with the latest events on and off the court.
This will have the double benefit of giving you some betting insight from day one, whilst also making you sound like a genius when discussing the finer complexities of the women’s seeding system. Knowledge: it’s not a trick, is it?
7 – Catch up with your own club
Pre-season is starting in earnest at every level of the football pyramid, so Friday is an ideal time to catch up with everything that’s been going on at your club recently.
With attentions so highly fixed on events in Russia, you could be forgiven for missing a signing or two. In fact, given the general insanity of football these days, there’s half a chance your club has hired and fired two or three managers since the start of the tournament. Whoops.
8 – Learn how to socialise again
We try extremely hard to pretend it doesn’t exist, but apparently there is a life beyond watching every possible second of football on TV during a World Cup summer. So Friday presents a glorious chance to head out, stick your “Yes, I’d love to see another photo of your baby…” conversation training wheels on and try to remember how to socialise with other people again.
One huge bonus to this is that whoever you end up speaking to, you can guarantee the topic of conversation will very quickly move on to one very specific subject.
Which moves on us neatly to…
9 – Laugh at Germany again
Well, we don’t get to do this every year, do we?